TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNW) – Governor Laura Kelly  discussed  the latest updates regarding COVID-19 during her press conference on Thursday. She was also joined by Delía García, secretary for the Kansas Department of Labor, and DeAngela Burns-Wallace, secretary for the Kansas Department of Administration.

The state has 1,588 positive cases. It is up 94 from Wednesday. There have been 80 deaths.

Gov. Kelly announced she will be on a call with President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence tonight to discuss how to reopen the economy.

The governor said 160,000 Kansans have filed for unemployment. According to the governor, plans to update computer mainframe from the 1970s were halted in 2011 and never picked back up. She says this old technology is the cause of many issues. However, she said the Kansas Department of Labor continues to work extended hours with new hires being brought in, and staff from other departments are helping out as well.

Also during the conference, Kansas Department of Labor secretary Delía García announced a new process for filing unemployment benefits and weekly claims.

The department is asking claimants to file an application for benefits and weekly claims on certain days by the first letter of their last name. This process is called “Gating” and will ensure more Kansans access to file.

  • If you need to file an unemployment application or weekly claim and your last name begins with the letter A – M, file a claim on Sunday (afternoon), Tuesday, or Thursday.
  • If you need to file an unemployment application or weekly claim and your last name begins with the letter N – Z, file a claim on Monday, Wednesday, or Friday.
  • Saturdays will be reserved for anyone who has not previously been able to file a claim.
  • Remember: claims filed on either Sunday or Monday will be paid at the same time, so there is no disadvantage to you if your last name is Zook and you file on Monday instead of Sunday.

“When Kansans follow this guideline, we believe it will reduce the load on the system and allow
claimants to file claims on time,” García said. “Thank you for your patience as we continue to work
together to get your benefits to you.”

Kansas Department of Administration secretary DeAngela Burns-Wallace said an ‘IT SWAT team’ has been working to add more processing power to the website to keep up with the claims and that is why they had to shut down the website on Tuesday.

Right now, code is being implemented for the $600 additional unemployment funds by the Federal CARES Act. It should be up by next week.